Rosetta encounters the comet

After a decade-long journey chasing its target, European Space Agency ESA's Rosetta has today become the first spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet, opening a new chapter in Solar System exploration.

Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and Rosetta now lie 405 million kilometres from Earth, about half way between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, rushing towards the inner Solar System at nearly 55 000 kilometres per hour.

"After ten years, five months and four days travelling towards our destination, looping around the Sun five times and clocking up 6.4 billion kilometres, we are delighted to announce finally 'we are here'," says Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA's Director General.

Today, Rosetta is just 100 km from the comet's surface, but it will edge closer still. Over the next six weeks, it will describe two triangular-shaped trajectories in front of the comet, first at a distance of 100 km and then at 50 km. Eventually, Rosetta will attempt a close, near-circular orbit at 30 km and, depending on the activity of the comet, perhaps come even closer.

The final timeline for the sequence of events for deploying Philae – currently expected for 11 November – will be confirmed by the middle of October.

Read more

Tekes coordinates space activites in Finland. New site Space Finland introduces current themes in space related activities. You are most welcome to join Space Finland to produce content.

Image: ESA

Kaj Nordgren
comments powered by Disqus